December 22, 2007 / 4:51 AM / 12 years ago

FBI aims for world's largest biometrics database

A Mexican national has his thumb fingerprint taken on a digital scanner by a U.S. Border Patrol agent after the Mexican was caught attempting an undocumented entry into the U.S. from Mexico in Laredo, Texas May 3, 2006. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion project to build the world’s largest computer database of biometrics to give the government more ways to identify people at home and abroad, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

The FBI has already started compiling digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns in its systems, the paper said.

In January, the agency — which focuses on violations of federal law, espionage by foreigners and terrorist activities — expects to award a 10-year contract to expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives, it said.

At an employer’s request, the FBI will also retain the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks, the paper said.

If successful, the system, called Next Generation Identification, will collect the biometric information in one place for identification and forensic purposes, the Post said.

Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by John O'Callaghan

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